TOEFL Or IELTS – Which Do You Prefer?

What is IELTS?
The IELTS is an English language test that is used for educational, immigration and occupational purposes, and is accepted by over 9,000 institutions across 130 countries worldwide.

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What is TOEFL?
The TOEFL test seeks to test your ability to communicate in English in specifically academic, university and classroom-based settings. It is accepted by over 8,500 institutions across 130 countries, including the UK, USA and Australia, as well as all of the world’s top 100 universities.

Aside from the different styles of English each exam is are based on, TOEFL exam questions are almost entirely multiple choice, whereas IELTS requires you to respond to a range of different question types such as short answer, gap-filling and short essay tasks. The IELTS is significantly shorter than the TOEFL exam, taking approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes versus four hours to complete.


Whilst both exams have a speaking component, the IELTS speaking test is taken face-to-face with an examiner.

In the TOEFL exam, you’ll answer six questions into a microphone which are recorded and later sent to a group of six reviewers. Your IELTS speaking score will only be determined by a single examiner.

The written component of the TOEFL exam is typed as opposed to the paper-based IELTS exam. TOEFL requires you to complete two tasks, the first of which will be a five-paragraph essay between 300-350 words. For the second task, you will need to take notes from a section of text and lecture excerpt on the same topic, and use them to construct a 150-225 word response. The IELTS writing test also has two sections, the first of which however requires you to summarise or explain information presented in a graph, chart, table or diagram. In the second, you’ll need to write a 200-250 word response to a prompt that offers a point of view, argument or asks you to write in a particular language style.

The reading tests for both exams are quite similar: the TOEFL reading test is made up of three-five reading sections you will have 20 minutes to complete while The IELTS reading test has three sections also each 20 minutes long and with texts academic in nature.

The speaking and writing sections of the TOEFL are graded based on how they appear as a whole, including your range of vocabulary, writing style and grammar.
The IELTS is graded on a band system from 1-9, with your overall score being an average of your separate scores in all four tests. Your overall score will be rounded to the nearest half-band, i.e. if your overall average is 6.25, it will be rounded up to a final score of 6.5. TOEFL is a single test that is graded out of 120 points.

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